I was writing before about the benefits of sharing. Sharing not only possessions, but our victories and our burdens, does so much to develop peace in our hearts. But I want to look closer at the sharing of possessions. In this first article let's look closely at a picture of personal ownership (what's mine is mine, and what's yours is yours), and what happens to our relationships with God and with others. In the next article to come, we will look at a picture of sharing possessions, and what is gained or lost and how it effects those same relationships.
In this day in age, sharing of possessions is something that causes a huge internal struggle when it is first presented to us. We are taught that what we have is who we are. We are identified by our possessions.
What do you think when you see a person driving a Mercedes or Lexus? What do you think they do for a living? Do you assume they are intelligent? What about when you see a person mowing their lawn with a new, fancy lawnmower? Or better yet, when a landscape service is doing their mowing? What do you think when you see someone driving an old rusty lawnmower? See, we make assumptions about who people are, and how educated they are, and how successful they are, based on how they spend their money. We wrongly assume that rich people spend more money, when actually it is just the opposite. The rich often become that way by being frugal. Those that buy expensive things all the time will never be rich, as there will always be something new to buy.
Posessions seperate us. They help to establish the differences between us. Worse, we fall into the trap of judging people by what they possess and not by who they are.
These illusions trap us in our buying. We too want to be perceived as rich, successful, educated, sophisticated. So we accessorize. And we shrink from the whole idea of sharing, or giving up ownership of possessions. "Bbbbbut, what will be mine?" In other words, what will I have to show for all my hard work and success?
God doesn't view us that way. He doesn't identify us by our possessions. In fact, He knows that it all belongs to him anyways. He is only allowing us to care for it for him. He realizes how easily we fall into addiction to ownership of things, in our attempt to keep up with the Joneses. Worse, he knows that we can keep amassing things, but that we will never feel satisfied, and will never discover the joy that we obtain only through the Holy Spirit.
Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards. I made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees. I bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house. I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man. I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Here is the thing. God knows that as long as we are focused on obtaining and caring for our stuff, we will not be focused on Him. We are incapable of serving. These things are distractions.
Think about someone you may know who has purchased a new car. Do they park that car in tight places? Or throw the keys to everyone they know? "Take 'er for a spin!" Or do they wash that car frequently, park it away from other cars, sometimes taking up two or three spaces in the process? What happens when someone rams a shopping cart into their new car? Or when a neighborhood toddler runs into it with his tricycle? Or someone bounces a ball against the door? Do they say, "Aw, it's okay. It's just a car". Do they come unglued? How do they react to the person who damaged their car? What do they say or do to the toddler with his tricycle? Do they honor God with their actions? Is their focus on Him or on their car?
Matthew 6:21 and Luke 12:34
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13
You cannot be the slave of two masters! You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Things aren't bad. Money is not evil. It is the worship of money and possessions that leads to trouble. It is all about what you choose to do with them that determines whether you are worshiping them or using them as tools for God.
The only sure way to loosen the bonds that tie you to worship of your possessions is to give up ownership of them, either through sharing or giving them away outright. Not through selling, but through actually meeting someone's needs through what you already have. I have seen miracles occur when people really grab ahold of this way of thinking and living. The folks written about in the Bible have seen them too, and so can you!
More on that to come...